How Your Fridge Can Save You Thousands of Dollars (Slideshow)
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Could you be wasting nearly $3,000 dollars a year on spoiled food?
Check Your Temperature
Your fridge and freezer need to be kept at the ideal temperature in order to keep your food fresh. While most units come with a “cold, colder, coldest” setting, you will really want to invest in a fridge thermometer. The ideal fridge temperature is 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while freezers need to be kept at 0 degrees or below.
While most “as seen on TV” products are a waste of money, those advertising green products to keep your fruit and veggies lasting longer actually work. Items like the Stay Fresh Green Containers and Green Bags contain zeolite, a mineral that absorbs ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is what helps fruit and vegetables to ripen, so reducing the amount of it will help add shelf life to produce.
Keep Everything In Square, Clear Containers
This is an especially good tip for your top shelf, which is where most of the spoilage occurs, since it is one of the warmest spots of the fridge. Pretty Tupperware is fun to look at, but not when it is holding last week’s molded macaroni in it. A clear container will help remind you of what you’ve stored and when. Use a P-Touch label maker or marker to write your storage date on the side of the container facing out so it is easy to read. Square containers are easier to stack so you’re saving space, too.
Know How Long It’s Good For
Even though you’ve got the temperature issue sorted out, it doesn’t mean your food is protected forever. Over time, even chilled foods will spoil so it is important to know how long your food is good for. According to the USDA, raw meats, poultry, and seafood are only good for one to two days. Roasts, steaks, and chop last slightly longer from three to five days, and cooked food, or leftovers, should be tossed after three to four days. When storing your meats, rotate them so that the newest winds up on the bottom, not the top. This way, you will know what you need to use first.
Have a Prep Night
Menu planning might seem like a tedious chore, but once you’ve started, it becomes an easy addition to your week. First, plan your week’s menu. Try to include the items that need to be used up. Like that package of chicken breast you just defrosted. Then, prep your ingredients for each one of them. For example, chop carrots once for all the week’s recipes. Measure them out for each meal. Then, package them in individual baggies or reusable containers. Store the portioned out ingredients for each meal together in a larger bag with the meal name on it. Store the prepped in the order you are planning on eating them.
Group Dairy Together
Since many pairs of foods are used together, like butter and eggs, group them together in the fridge. With the exception of milk, most dairy items don’t need to be extremely cold to keep, so a dairy drawer or top shelf will work best to store them. Knowing what you have of each will make it easier to shop for them, too.
Maximize Shelf Space
If it doesn’t need to be kept cold, keep it out of the fridge. Unopened bottles of water, tea, soda or shelf-stable items like ketchup and mustard can be kept in the pantry and rotated into the fridge when needed. Keep a checklist on the side of the fridge door reminding you when you are down to your last item so that you can add it to your grocery list. Another good tip is to not overstuff your fridge. "Cool air must circulate to keep food from spoiling prematurely," says Kuper.
Store Leftovers Smartly
Instead of dumping your leftovers into a giant container, ration them out into individual sized portions. Then, store them in clear containers or bags with the item name and cook date on them. That way, if you are running low on cash and need to brown bag your lunch one day, it’s ready. Toss leftovers after three to four days.
Do Over Your Doors
The doors are the warmest part of the fridge, so only store-bought condiments with a long shelf life, like ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, and the like, should be kept there. Store them with the expiration date facing out, so you know how long they are good for.
Keep Your Fruits and Veggies Separate
Most fridge units come with two crisper drawers. For maximum longevity, use one for fruit, the other for veggies. Fruits that give off high levels of ethylene, like peaches and apples, can prematurely ripen and spoil vegetables.
Don’t Wash Vegetables Until You are Ready to Use Them
While some TV chefs love the idea of washing all your produce the minute you get home so it can be ready to use, prewashing can actually shorten the shelf life of most veggies. Instead, don’t wash anything until you are ready to use it.
Select Energy Efficient Appliances & Electronics Step 11
Because zero energy homes are so energy efficient, appliances and electronic devices often use more energy than space conditioning and water heating. So selecting these consumer products with energy consumption in mind has never been more important. Identifying and purchasing the most energy efficient appliances and electronics at the lowest cost takes some effort as the most energy efficient and cost effective models often vary with each model year. Here is some guidance on selecting appliances and electronics that use far less energy without going over budget.
Select Energy Star Appliances
Search for energy efficient appliances on the ENERGY STAR Product Finder page and select the most cost-effective models. Smaller appliances usually use less energy, so think about right-sizing refrigerators, clothes washers, and dishwashers. In selecting appliances for a zero energy home, both cost and energy consumption should be taken into consideration.
Using the ENERGY STAR Product Finder you can search for products with the lowest annual electricity (kWh) consumption. For example, here is the list of Most Efficient Refrigerators sorted to show the lowest energy use first. The list illustrates that energy consumption correlates very closely to refrigerator capacity, so one way to reduce energy use and save money would be to install the smallest size appliance that meets homebuyers’ needs. For example, a 20-cubic-foot refrigerator uses less energy, square footage, and purchasing power than a 28-cubic-foot model, and an 18-inch or drawer-type dishwasher will take up less space and use less energy than the standard 24-inch model. Of course, appliance size will need to reflect the needs of the household.
Energy efficient appliances
Induction Stove Tops
An induction cooktop heats 30% more efficiently than a gas range and about 12% more efficiently than an ordinary electric range. Induction cooktops also heat more quickly than either electric or gas ranges. Induction cooktops heat the molecules in the pan rather than heating the cooktop itself. When you are done cooking, the cooktop usually is warm, but not hot, so it is safe to touch and easy to clean. Gas stoves create indoor air pollution that often exceeds EPA limits for indoor air quality, making it best to avoid installing them in very airtight homes.
Microwave ovens are significantly more energy efficient and faster than electric or gas ovens. Microwaves should be sized so they can be used for most cooking. Recipes and techniques for cooking a wide variety of foods in a microwave oven are readily available online.
High RPM Washer with Cold Water
A front-loading clothes washer with at least a 1400 RPM spin cycle and a fan fresh (fluff) option will take much of the moisture out of wet clothes without heat, minimizing the use of a dryer or time needed to line-dry laundry. All washers have energy-saving cycles that use only cold water. Since hot water heating uses more energy, it makes sense to recommend cold water washing to zero energy home buyers. See the ENERGY STAR list of lowest consumption clothes washers .
Standard electric or gas dryers use a considerable amount of energy and must be exhausted to the outside, creating the equivalent of a large (though intermittent) air leak in an otherwise super-tight building shell. Air drying clothes saves a lot of energy. Outdoor clothes lines and indoor drying racks are cost effective and can be included in the home and yard design. In dry climates, indoor drying can bring welcome moisture to household air. In moist climates, outdoor clothes lines are a better option.
Heat Pump Dryers
If an automatic clothes dryer is needed, consider a heat pump condensing dryer . Using the same technology as refrigerators, space heating heat pumps, and water heating heat pumps, these dryers get more heat from each unit of electricity than a typical electric dryer, typically saving 50 to 60% on energy costs. Heat pump clothes dryers have been used in Europe for many years, and are now available in the U.S. market. The models currently available are more costly than standard dryers, but they significantly reduce one of the largest remaining energy uses in energy efficient homes. As costs come down, they will be the electric dryer of choice. See the list of ENERGY STAR heat pump clothes dryers with the lowest energy consumption .
Surprisingly, the largest category of energy use in today’s energy efficient homes is electronics, especially big screen TVs, gaming consoles, computers, and other electronics. Many electronics are energy hogs while running and continue to use energy even when they are turned off, known as “phantom loads” – wasting energy 24/7. Consider purchasing the most energy efficient electronics available. See the ENERGY STAR list of most efficient televisions and other electronics .
The next step is to install manual on-off switches and use smart power strips to turn off phantom loads. In rooms where electronics are likely to be used install wall switches that regulate the outlets so the electronics can be turned completely off with a wall switch. Check out New Buildings Institute’s useful Plug Loads Best Practices Guide .
When building a smaller house as part of your zero energy strategy, consider selecting smaller appliances as well. When the building itself costs hundreds of dollars per square foot, shaving a few square feet from the total can save thousands of dollars in construction costs. Similarly, a 20-cubic-foot refrigerator uses less energy, square footage, and purchasing power than a 28-cubic-foot model. Consider downsizing the dishwasher from the standard 24-inch model to an 18-inch or a drawer-type dishwasher. Of course, appliance size will need to reflect the needs of the household.
The way occupants select and use appliances and electronics has a big impact on overall household energy use. For a zero energy home that has met the energy modeling requirements to be successful in real life application, builders must provide homeowners with the technologies necessary for their success as well as education and guidelines for zero energy living .
Can you go 30 days without spending? Try my annual spending detox to get the new year off to a healthy start
Every year, after the holidays are finally over, I go on a 30-day spending detox.
I do it for three reasons: First, it’s an excellent way to boost my bank account. Second, it resets my money mindset for the New Year, forcing me to use what I have. Third, it commands the same discipline that my January fitness routine requires — and that means I’m going to improve both my physical and financial fitness at the same time.
Turning the taps off when it comes to spending can save you hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars. That money can be used for important things like saving up for a trip, paying off debt, or my personal favourite, investing for your retirement.
Interested in the challenge? There are three rules:
1) Stop spending money on anything that’s not essential
2) Set up regular e-transfers into your savings account daily or weekly
3) Pay your normal bills and budgeted expenses like rent or groceries
Not sure where to start? Here are some tips to get going:
Eat at home and pack your lunch. Meals out are a major budget killer. Make your own food daily. This means you’ll need to be more thoughtful in your meal planning and go to the grocery store with a list that you can actually stick to.
Use up what’s in your pantry and fridge. We all have a can of lentils, a package of pasta or a rutabaga that’s been pushed way to the back. Dig all that food out and look up recipes that use those ingredients.
Inventory your household supplies before buying another package of toothpaste or container of laundry detergent. Use up your stockpile of household supplies — soap, toothbrushes, deodorant, paper towel, cleaning supplies and more.
Cancel unnecessary subscriptions that automatically hit your bank account or credit card. Sure, it’s nice to have multiple streaming services for shows and music and fitness motivation. But chances are you don’t need them all. Subscription costs can be small, but when you add them all up, they can total hundreds of dollars a month.
Get fit at the same time. Use up your gym membership or class passes. Follow free YouTube workouts. And, if you happen to live in a condo with a gym, use it.
Create new outfits from your current wardrobe. This is a great month to pull everything out of your closet, purge what you don’t need, and find ways to pair new styles with classic favourites.
Entertain yourself for free. I know it’s cold, but it’s still a great time to bundle up and get outdoors. Head out for walks, runs, hikes and bikes. Cruise through local festivals. If you have kids, go to the local library for free programs. Host meals rather than go out with friends and ask your guests to bring a dish like dessert.
Calculate your savings and e-transfer them into your savings account.
When I do the 30-day no-spending challenge, I save about $25 per day, which adds to $750 throughout the month. Because I don’t pay banking fees to transfer money from my chequing to my savings, I e-transfer whatever I save into my savings account every day. You can do the same. Add up what you would have normally spent, $5 on coffee and $15 on a lunch, for example, and transfer that money into your savings.
When the 30 days of no-spending are up, you’re going to have a nice stash of savings which can be used for upcoming travel, for a rainy day or for your RRSPs. You might also discover a few new opportunities to permanently improve your spending habits. But whatever you do, avoid squandering your new hard-earned savings. Be thoughtful about what the money is going to be used for.
Professional vs. DIY Catering
Professional catering costs can vary quite a bit, as they are dependent upon a lot of different variables, such as the kind of food you are serving (high-cost items like caviar and lobster versus burgers and pizza), the number of people you are feeding, location, and the style of service (multi-course, plated meals, buffets, stations, family-style, etc.). “Catering ranges on the spectrum,” says Wexler. “There is drop-off catering, which can start at $50 per person, to full-service catering, which includes food, beverage, and staff and can be upwards of $300 per person.”
Catering your own wedding can bring the cost down hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.”[In terms of a] number range, it is really hard to say. It’s like pricing out chicken: Chicken can be $5 or $25 (think free-range, organic, etc),” says Wexler. “There are so many variables. I am sure you can do something starting at $20 per person, but time is money and it will eat up your time.”
Tips for Saving Money on Special Occasions
Being frugal doesn't have to mean missing out on big celebrations or fun vacations. You can save money on beauty products with hacks to make your own cosmetics so you can still look elegant for fancy affairs. The holidays can still be over-the-top with cheap Christmas ideas like using inexpensive decorations in creative new ways. You can even afford big trips by looking for things such as Las Vegas freebies when you head off on a vacation to make it more cost effective.
Create a “drop zone”/>Shutterstock
At the start of each week, look over your calendar to see what’s on tap. Then, gather the items you’ll need – say your daughter’s soccer cleats or a bottle of wine for a hostess gift – and place these in a designated “drop zone” by the door. (This can be a table, shelving unit, or bags on hooks.) This will save you from having to buy new items at the last minute because you forgot to grab the ones you already have at home. You should also check the weather and prepare for it too – this way you’ll never have to spring for a costly new umbrella when there’s a sudden downpour.
For a family of 5 the average dinner out costs us around $50. (sadly not many kids meals being eaten anymore). When you add that up a few times a week it could be a huge budget buster. With a little advance planning you could save so much money each month and put that money into your emergency fund or that vacation you are saving up for.
It is ok to eat out once in a while, just plan for it in the budget and of course seek ways to save on the bill. Check out my tips for ways to save at restaurants.
Even if it is just a week at a time to plan your meals, it can save you money and time too! Meal planning means, no more figuring out what is for dinner last minute. Make your grocery store run only once a week to avoid those extra costs as well. On that last minute run for just milk or eggs you are bound to purchase other things that are not budgeted for. Make a list and stick to it. And if a full out meal plan seems daunting- try “batch cooking” to start, something like my cooking ground beef in the crock-pot. < Life changing hack here!
Take a look at your cable and internet provider. Are you getting the best deal? Most companies run specials every 6 months or so. See if you qualify for those savings- and don’t be afraid to switch back and forth between providers to get the best price. Sometimes it is best to cut the cable all together. With services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video you may not need those pricey cable services at all!
Downsize Your Car
Do you need that big SUV? If not downsize to a more cost effective car that will get you better gas mileage. Also consider more carpooling opportunities to cut down on the cost of running around town to kids activities.
Stop Looking at Sales
Go to your inbox, how many emails do you get that are just sales for stores? Unsubscribe! Just because your favorite store has jeans half off and it will “save you money” does not mean you actually need them. These little impulse buys add up fast each month. Hubs often says, “Are you spending money to save it?” That’s a good reality check. Plus…
Buy Second Hand
Not everything needs to be brand new. Buying second hand has never been easier with apps such as Facebook marketplace or letgo and online sites like Schoola and ThredUp. Especially for kids clothing or toys, you could save up to 90% off retail. I love using Facebook groups to not only buy, but also sell second hand. Check out my tips for Facebook Garage Sale Groups.
Quit Bad Habits
Smoking and drinking can add up fast. If you can not quit the habit at least cut back some. Not only is it better for your wallet but it is also better for your health.
If you have a gym membership but are only going a few times a month, I suggest canceling it. See if you can use a friend’s guest pass instead if you would still like to go. Even offer to split the cost to use it could save you half each month. Also look community recreation centers that might offer month to month options. That way you can pay as you go and maybe take advantage of being outside during nice weather.
Goodbye Costco and Sam’s. I know this will offend some, but paying for warehouse memberships might be costing you more than just the membership fees. Often, you can “buy in bulk” much cheaper by stocking up on sale items at regular grocery stores. See my tips for realistic stockpiling and how it can save your family so much on your grocery budget.
Bottled Water – Coffee Shops
Sure it is easy to grab a water bottle from your fridge or pick one up while you are out but each bottle adds up. Instead, invest in a nice reusable water bottle and fill it each day.
The same goes for your morning cup of joe. Instead of stopping at that over priced coffee shop on your way to work, make a pot at home and take it with you. Once again you will save time and money! And if you really need a Starbucks fix, turn your Ibotta savings into Starbucks gift cards.
The average cut, color and blow dry can add up into the hundreds. Instead of paying those high prices check out the beauty schools in your area. They are always looking for clients to help their students at a fraction of what you would pay at the salon. If you have kids or a husband with a buzz cut, see if you can cut their hair at home. I have been cutting hubs hair (and now one son too) for years. I save hundreds of dollars a year and again it’s a huge time saver too! Check out how easy it is to do a buzz cut!
Bonus Tip – Leave the credit cards at home and start paying with cash only! You may have heard this called the envelope system- placing budgeted cash into specific envelopes for each month. Statistic show that consumers tend to spend less when they are using cash – be cause they can “feel” it more. We “cut up the credit cards” more than 10 years ago after taking our first Financial Peace University class and have never looked back!
Try a few of these tips this month and see how much money you can save. What spending habits you have cut out of your budget this month?
Why Meal Planning 101?
#1 Reason &ndash Eat healthy, home-cooked foods.
#2 Reason &ndash Stay within your grocery budget (more than likely, you will save money each week).
#3 Reason &ndash Dinner will always be served on time.
Afternoon and early evenings are the busiest time of day in our family.
Kids are coming home from school. Everyone is getting off work. Personally, I prefer to sneak off to the gym before dinner (yes, right when dinner needs to be cooked.) Kids have practices. Homework to complete. Papers to sign.
All in all, it is BUSY! Who wants to think about what is for dinner.
Even before kids&helliponce I got off from work, the last thing I wanted to think about what is for dinner. Let alone &ndash cook dinner.
Here is the process I use each and every week to meal plan for our family. I have taught others this same process and the simplicity of meal planning.
Challenge yourself to plan meals for 4 weeks.
It will become a habit &ndash I promise. Just stay consistent!
Waste-free cooking can be easy and makes cooking more fun and less stressful.
The best things you can do to cook without waste are:
- cook to a meal plan
- get creative to use up ingredients
- cook the right amount to avoid leftovers.
A meal plan can save you both time and stress and will help you use up what you’ve bought.
If you find yourself with spare ingredients or leftovers, take the opportunity to get creative so that you use them up. Search online for recipes that use the specific ingredients you have or check out some of our simple recipes for commonly-wasted items.
Cooking the right amount for what you need also helps reduce waste. If you want to avoid leftovers, it makes sense to be more cautious with your portion sizes. But if you love your leftovers, deliberately preparing larger portions to freeze or eat for lunch can actually save food, money and time.
Think some of your food is beyond rescue? Think again!
If leftovers are the result of younger fussy eaters, there are lots of ways to involve kids in the food journey.
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